Tag Archives: mudlark

Treasure Hunting with Tom

1 Jun

I’ve just had a week-long visit from Tom Barber, one of my best and oldest friends. He was eager to give detecting a try, so on Sunday (May 26th), we went out with the Oxford Blues to a farm near Brize Norton. Some good Georgian coins came off the pasture, but we didn’t have much success. Tom found a coin depicting an early automobile. It turned out to be a De Dion-Bouton 6 H.P. (1903) coin from the Shell Historic Cars Collection, issued by Shell Garages circa 1970. He also found a 1970 10p coin, before the size change (which happened in 1992, I think). 
(total time: 3.5 hours, though we split detector time for the most part). 

The following Wednesday we tried a bit of Thames mudlarking. It was an overcast day, and we didn’t have much time on the river. We concentrated our efforts on the north side of the river near the Millenium Bridge. The site was rumoured to have numerous pipe stems and bowls, and we did find many of these. Tom also found a human bicuspid and animal teeth of various sizes. Another searcher told us that there had been slaughterhouses and chandlers congregated near the spot where the Walbrook entered the Thames (not far from where we were), which may account for the numerous teeth we discovered. We also met one of the real mudlarks, a member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks, who told me (politely) that I’d be ‘pulled by old Bill’ if I scraped on the north shore, which was eyes-only to all but the society. 

After larking, eyes-only, for an hour and a half, we climbed off of the foreshore and attended A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the new Globe. 


First Time on the Thames Foreshore (April 26th, 2013)

26 Apr

Good friend Dick Holmes was visiting from the Carolinas. He has done quite a bit of beachcombing and artefact hunting near his hometown in Robeson County (arrowheads and other objects), and he was keen to do some searching here in England. We arose far too early (4.45 am) and took the Oxford Tube into London. Low tide was meant to be at 7.51, but when we arrived at London Bridge, it looked to my rookie eyes to be still in full flood. Only when we got to the London flat of Dick’s cousin were we able to double-check times and confirm that it was in fact low tide. By the time we made it back and across London Bridge to some steps leading to the foreshore, we only had an hour and a half until the tide obscured the searchable area.

We made the most of the time we had, however, bending to the work with a will. In short order, Dick turned up some large bits of articulating iron. I found a lovely pottery fragment with a raised flower on it, as well as a (possible) pipe stem [Ed. note: Nope, it was rubber-insulated wire; 28/4/13]. I also found a modern, base-metal ring. Dick found a tile fragment, a large chunk of sea glass, and various bits of nautical ironmongery. In total we collected 28p in modern coinage, mostly corroded. 

Our finds were all eyes-only. We did break out the AT Pro for a moment, just to get a sense of the difficulty. I set iron disc up to 45 and used the sniper search coil. It did work well once I got used to listening ‘past’ the squelches: we turned up a couple of pull tabs hidden several inches down in the gravelly mud. But there were so many objects scattered on the surface that the machine didn’t seem necessary given our time and tide constraints. 

It was a fun hunt, and it was great to spend fair-weather time on the Thames with a mate. The experience also whet my appetite for more larking. Watch this space…

Dick with London Bridge in the background:ImageImageImageImageImage


(1.5 hrs, eyes only)



30 Mar


I’ve been meaning to post about this for several days now; on the 25th of March, my Thames Foreshore Permit arrived. For the next three years, I’ll be able to dig on the foreshore to a depth of seven centimeters, scouring the banks of the tidal Thames for treasure and relics. If I report enough finds to the PAS and the Museum of London over that period, I’ll be eligible to apply for one of only about fifty mudlark permits, and to become a member of the Society of Thames Mudlarks.

The permit arrived with various maps depicting in detail which areas I am eligible to detect and search. I hope that my Maldon training lends itself to the Thames search. It would be a rare and fine thing to belong to the society.